The best I've heard so far (in MY system ;-) is the Purist. I have their middle-of-the-range Venustas (MSRP $1950) but there are even more expensive models like the Dominus and the new solid core Provectus (which I've not heard but sure would like to ;-).
Obviously, you'll need to try a few examples to discover which one(s) provide the sonics you want when combined with your cartridge and electronics. The following, along with Purist, are the best out there in my ever-so-humble opinion ;-)
Silver Breeze (by Silver Audio, one of the best at any price)
Golden Reference (Cardas)
Avondale II (by Siltech, expensive like Purist)
Music Groove 2 (Hovland)
There is no "best". It is all taste- and system-dependent.
If you live in the States, get in touch with the Cable Company. They have a loan system and will let you try out cables at home with your own system.
Nsgarch above has given you a good idea what to try out. Purist, Siltech and the expensive Stealth cables ( but not their dedicated phono cable) would also be on the top of my list to try out first.
Chris, I would also suggest that you try the Synergistic Research Magnetic Tricon phono cable. Some time ago I was in the market for a better phono cable and tried several from the Cable Co., namely the SR Tricon, The Hovland Music Groove 2, and the Cardas and ended up much preferring the SR. Michael Fremer just several months ago compared five phono cables and two of which were the Tricon and the Hovland. You should take a look at the article.
As Detlof stated above, there is no best. It is all system synergy and the listener's particular taste.
Best of luck in your search.
I have used the Synergistic Research Tricon, Cardas Golden Reference, Furutech AG-12, Audio Horizons Dimension and Hovland Music Groove 2 tonearm cables. In my system, the one that has consistently given me the most textured, musical and enjoyable sound has been the Cardas Golden Reference.
Well Chris, there you have it. Somewhere in this excellent group of candidates IS a "best" for you and your system.
I did want to point out however, that "system synergy" is not entirely a hit and miss affair. Yes, try out cables until you close in on the ones that sound 'right' to you. But remember, you have already "unchosen" certain (very otherwise qualified) candidates by your prior selection of other elements -- Koetsu and ARC, to name two. And I was kind of wondering what cables and/or other equipment attended those decisions -- don't get me wrong, I don't disapprove of them; just curious.
As to your second question, which seems to have gotten lost here: After many years of combining and listening to various high-end (and OK, expensive!) cables, I have come to the conclusion that using all the same make (and model) cabling whenever/wherever possible in a system adds more to system synergy than any mixture of makes/models; no matter how well combined or optimized. I know others will disagree with this position, and it's only true when using premium products as suggested by everyone here, but I did the "mix/combine/tune your system" cable approach and finally saw the light This was driven home to me when I purchased my Venustas phono set at CES from Jim Aud, the owner of Purist. He insisted (practically to the point of giving them to me for free!) that I take an additional pair of RCA/RCA Venustas to go from my Levinson 25S phono pre to my Levinson 26S preamp. I have repeated this exercise in my own and other peoples' systems enough times now to know it works. I'm pissed off that I can't explain the 'science' of why it works, but I know a scientific reason exists and eventually, I'll get to the bottom of it ;-)
Nsgarsh, I agree with you that the synergy of a system can be enhanced if the cableing is from the same manufacturer. I should have stated in my thread above that all of my power cords and ICs in my system are Synergistic Research Tesla Series and that probably has a lot to do with the synergy that I feel my system has.
I've had the best luck with the Synergistic Research Tricon Analog. It beat out ever other phono cable that I tried. See if you can audition one.
I have to agree with Nsgarch. The Purist Audio are great cables and have made my system a lot better. Their phono cables are especially nice.
Of course, the ones that sound best in your system. Do not let price be your guide. Double blind tests have proven time and time again, there is no relationship between price and performance. To further complicate things, different actual cables and connector combination's will sound different. As always, auditioning as free loaner's is the best way to buy. When you find a loaner that works, buy the loaner. Don't let the dealer give you a 'new' cable. When you buyer the loaner, it should be at 70% or less, of the cost of a new cable. Enjoy.
Here's a 3rd for the Purist. I have the Purist Proteus Provectus. Previously had the Purist Venastas, Hovland MG2 and Graham IC 50.
Both of the Purist's are great. The Proteus is simply stunning.
Thanks a lot!
I tried to stay with MIT and purchesed Magnum Phono with
I was kind of surprised that this is not as good as
EMM labs CDSD SE + DCC2 SE wired by MIT MAX to Cabasse Atlantis.
I know Magnum is not as good as MAX, but still I connected turntable to AR ph7 first and then to Emm labs DCC2 SE which is wired by MAX to Cabasse.
Is Emm Labs DCC2 SE a good in the path way?
The Cardas Golden Reference is purely magical and seems to preserve all the analog texture and basically get out of the way and allow recordings to sound unique and different. This is my test for neutrality, recording contrasts. When they all sound the same....something is not right.
Have definite NOT tried all phono cables but did go through about 10 to 15, via the Cable Company's lending library, before buying the Hovland Music Groove 2. There were better cables but at more than 2.5 times the price. Have not tried Purist so cannot speak to that. All that I can say is that in my system for the price the Hovland Music Groove2 beat all competitors.
Great to have all of you in one place here.
Will try few before I will make final decission.
I think I have to try Cardas, Purist and Synergistic R.
Also I added my System into public virtual Systems. You can see it. Any opinion ?
Silver wire (silver can carry 6% more information than copper and 16% more than gold), Teflon tubes, high quality plugs,72V isolation
1 Disadvantage: Too cheap
Chris, I would urge you to include the Silver Breeze from Silver Audio. Max is very accommodating and will send it to you on approval, so you have nothing to lose. At under $600 it's an amazing performer far outclassing similarly priced products (like the LeoPard, IMO ;-) I liked the SB better, for instance than the Cardas GR which was recommended to me by the SME person at Sumiko. Had I not got my Venustas a week later at CES (for 60% off!), I would probably have bought the Silver Breeze. I mention this because occasionally, there are (under-priced?) products, which if they happen to work in your system, then you lucked out! But most of the time you get what you pay for.
I can agree with Buconero, but only in spirit ;-) Some products are indeed overpriced for what they offer in performance, and if the customer has NOT done their due diligence, they may find themselves defending the Emperor's new clothes;-) But the really BEST performing products are NEVER the cheapest, and usually worth every penny of their astronomical prices! Yes, it's true they tend to cost more and more for less and less incremental improvements; but this happens for a lot of understandable reasons that have nothing to do with a desire to gouge the public.
One very importany thing. It has to be Phono RCA both ends.
Most manufacturers (including SB) will configure phono cable any way you want. They should all include a ground wire+lug at the phono preamp end, and the RCA/RCA types will also have a ground lug at the TT end. See at the bottom of this page: http://www.silveraudio.com/special.htm
Thank you Nsgarch! I am wondering if connecting AR ph7 to emm labs DCC2 SE is a good idea? Should I have additional preamp?
Koegz I agree!
Untill we get there I need something good.
I have tried the Graham 70, Synergistic Research Tricon, Hovland MG2, Cardas Golden Reference and Silver Audio Silver Breeze. In my system, the Silver Breeze is at another level and is the cable I use.
Analog Rig: VPI TNT Mk IV fully upgraded; Graham Phantom Mk ii; Clear Audio Stradivari; EAR MC-4 SUT; and a Sonic Frontiers SFP-1 in MM mode completely overhauled and modded by Bill Thalmann of Music Technology (former lead engineer at Conrad-Johnson).
In this setting, the Silver Breeze pulls it all together, gets out of the way and makes music.
I guess some of you know that Hovland closed their doors, and supposedly Graham purchased and will be making the MG2.
Flyfish, I'm not totally sure about this (anyone chime in if I'm missing something), but of all the phono cables mentioned here, only the Silver Breeze and the phono cables from Purist are constructed using substantial (thick) mechanical vibration shielding as well as the customary electrical shielding. When cable designers include this feature, background and/or noise floor seem to get blacker and detail comes forward.
...the phono cables from Purist are constructed using substantial (thick) mechanical vibration shielding as well as the customary electrical shielding. When cable designers include this feature, background and/or noise floor seem to get blacker and detail comes forward
Maybe yes, maybe no. It has absolutely nothing to do with Quality. Cheap foam inside makes it thick but has no influence for sound quality. Purist has thick cables and very simple thin leads inside :-)
Good phoncables should show some Physical knowledge and low capacity. Most don't have a dedicated "Phono" Cable, they re-brand a normal NF Cable, double the price and that's it.
Syntax - you take a rather dim view of high end cable makers' integrity it seems ;-) not that one shouldn't be cautious, of course -- however, due diligence can clear up a lot of assumptions.
Actually, Purist uses a paste called Ferox, made with powdered iron oxide, to fill the jackets surrounding their gold/silver alloy (not plated!) conductors. Why did you assume it was 'cheap foam'? ;-) Ferox is quite heavy, but flexible. Purist has in the past used fluid-filled jackets as well, and now have sort of combined the two in a material called Contego. In any case this design very much contributes to a really clean music signal. If you ask people who own Purist products, the first thing they'll tell you is how quiet they are.
I'm not sure what materials Silver Audio uses but its a similar design, i.e. mechanical isolation + electrical shielding combined into a homogeneous substance.
don't worry, there are good Designs out there and better ones. It has nothing to do with 1 company. One of my friends opened some PAD cables some time ago (and others)...I did a Phono Cable comparison some time ago and there are big differences among them, independent from price (when I remember I had here Siltech, Kondo, Cardas Golden Cross (?), KSL-Vz, Graham-70 (?, the best from him), XLO Signature, PAD Venustas, and some other brands I forgot).
Most cables - in general - have own" characters" and are used to compensate or to support something in the main System. That makes it difficult to "recommend" because no one knows what "priorities" are asked.
Some are shielded, some not, some have good connectors, some not, some have developed a separate Phono cable, others say, they did, too, some have high quality strands, some have standard...you will find nearly everything and I agree with you, the PAD Venustas
is a VERY quiet cable.
In the $200=300 range, the Oyaide PA-2075 is very good.
Syntax, although you have stated some obvious truths, I'm not sure the point you are making? With over nine (I lost count) different cartridges in your system, you should find it easy to fit one of them to some cable or other ;-))
My personal quest for phono cables started when I discovered that my SME-supplied van den Hul silver cable sounded like crap (and with a vdH cartridge no less!) and when I started saying so to other audiophiles, I discovered that everyone else thought so too!
Nsgarch, I don't know about other phono cables, but the Silver Breeze (and the Purist I now know) does use extensive mechanical dampening. I have exchanged e-mails and have had phone calls with Max Kreifeldt and find him very knowledgeable (and opinionated), very devoted to his passion (ICs)and very committed to quality construction and service.
The Silver Breeze is much stiffer than any other I have evaluated/used, but Max is more than willing to customize the length of the cable AND the length of the break-out section (much more flexible - though still mechanically dampened) to accomodate most any situation.
I also hear it is true that Bob Graham purchased the rights to manufacture and distribute the MG2 now that Hovland is no longer.
Another cable manufacturer that is very committed to mechanical dampening is VH Audio. The AirSine PC and the Symmetry balanced IC (I use both) are both mechanically dampened. I agree with Nsgarch - it contributes to the overall excellence of the products.
Flyfish, after reading your comments, just out of curiosity, I searched Google for which turned up nearly 14,000 hits - and although I didn't read every one ;-) am overwhelming majority seemed to be audio cable makers who have incorporated some kind of resonance damping in their cable construction (some of their methods will produce a good laugh if nothing else ;-) but I was completely unaware that this issue constitutes a new audio bandwagon; with cable makers all clamoring to board! Once again, I'm late to the party ;-)
I was using some phono cables in the past, also trying to improve the matching components in the phono chain and I ended up with the Crystal Cable Dreamline. Try this one, it is not a cheap one but it is worth the price if you are looking for a real improvement.
I use an RCA terminated SilverBreeze with an ARC PH7 and an XLR terminated SilverBreeze with an Atma-Sphere MP-1. Tonearm is SME V, cart is Transfiguration Orpheus. I can't say if the SilverBreeze is 'the best', but it certainly is well made, quiet and revealing. Relative to its performance it may be one of the best phono cable values out there.
I would like to thank all of you. This info is great.
I was wondering if any of you knows what
is going to show in the market shortlly?
I know MIT will have new Phono MAX.
I have MAX balanced interconnects and I think they are the best of what I had so far.
Is new Phono MAX going to cooperate well?
I know it is better to try and decide, but if I want to check it I have to buy it.
Had PURIST VENUSTAS upgraded to PURIST PROVECTUS very quiet great bass midrange very good sound stage etc compared to Zero cable in my system PROVECTUS sounded more natural etc. Hovland is very good at its price.PURIST IS A WONDERFUL company JIM was very helpful to me as well!!